Review: Love That Boy

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Tyler and I inch toward the Green Room, in line with blow-dried TV anchors and stuffy columnists. He’s practicing his handshake and hello: “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. President. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. President. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. President.” When the couple in front of us steps forward for their picture, my teenager with sky-blue eyes and a soft heart looks up at me and says, “I hope I don’t let you down, Dad.”

What kind of father raises a son to worry about embarrassing his dad? I want to tell Tyler not to worry, that he’d never let me down. That there’s nothing wrong with being different. That I actually am proud of what makes him special. But we are next in line to meet the president of the United States in a room filled with fellow strivers, and all I can think about is the real possibility that Tyler might embarrass himself. Or, God forbid, me.

LOVE THAT BOY is a uniquely personal story about the causes and costs of outsized parental expectations. What we want for our children—popularity, normalcy, achievement, genius—and what they truly need—grit, empathy, character—are explored by National Journal’s Ron Fournier, who weaves his extraordinary journey to acceptance around the latest research on childhood development and stories of other loving-but-struggling parents.


Love That Boy is more than just a father’s journey of learning who his son is and accepting him, it’s also a look into the raw struggles of well-meaning (sometimes) parents. Ron Fournier’s background in journalism is prevalent throughout the book which makes for a quick read. The first half is filled with unrealistic parental expectations and its opposing research. I shook my head at many of the interviews and had to check my heart to make sure I wasn’t doing those same things.

If “accelerated” has become the new normal, there’s no choice but to diagnose the kids developing at a normal rate with a disorder. Instead of leveling the playing field for kids who really do suffer from a deficit, we’re ratcheting up the level of competition with performance-enhancing drugs. We’re juicing our kids for school. We’re also ensuring that down the road, when faced with other challenges that high school, college, and adult life are sure to bring, our children will use the coping skills we’ve taught them. They’ll reach for a pill.

The author is both transparent and painfully vulnerable at times and his courage to write his truth is admirable. I most enjoyed getting a view a life from a child living with Asperger’s. Tyler is quite the character with a fascinating mind. I hope to read something authored by him in the future.

Parenting is filled with complexities and I think this book does a good job at addressing many of them. I recommend this book to any parent, there is something for all of us to learn.

People who focus on living with a sense of purpose are more likely to remain healthy and intellectually sound and even to live longer than people who focus on achieving feelings of “happiness” via pleasure.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.





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